Compliance for registered journalism organizations

Registered journalism organizations (RJO) have certain obligations as qualified donees under the Income Tax Act. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) uses a variety of compliance activities to make sure RJOs meet these obligations.

Obligations

An RJO's obligations include:

Limitation on amounts an RJO may receive

In any given taxation year, an RJO may not receive gifts from any one source that represent more than 20% of its total revenues (including donations) for the year, unless the gift is:

A source includes one person, such as an individual, corporation, or trust. It can also be a group of persons that do not deal with each other at arm’s length. For more information on this criteria see paragraphs 5.20 to 5.21 in the Guidance on the income tax measures to support journalism.

How we promote compliance

We generally approach compliance through education first. There are a number of tools at our disposal, including our audit program. Audits help us maintain public confidence in the fairness and integrity of the registration system and are a key part of the compliance program.

If compliance concerns are identified in an audit, we will send a letter that outlines those concerns and give the RJO the chance to respond before coming to a final decision. Depending on the severity of non-compliance found in the audit, the potential outcome can include one or more of the following:

  1. Education letters guide registered organizations through the steps they need to follow to be fully compliant.
  2. Compliance agreements outline areas of non-compliance and commit registered organizations to take corrective action.
  3. Sanctions include financial penalties and/or temporary suspension of the registered organization’s tax-receipting privileges as well as its qualified donee status.
  4. Revocation is the loss of registration and the privileges that go with it. It is used in serious cases of non-compliance with the Act.

Sanctions

In cases where an RJO is involved in serious non-compliance, or for repeat or multiple infractions, we may impose sanctions. These range from financial penalties to the temporary suspension of the RJO’s tax receipting privileges or both.

For a list of the sanctions that apply to RJOs, go to Penalties and suspensions for RJOs.

If an RJO's receipting privileges are suspended, the RJO:

Revocation

We may revoke the registration of an RJO if it:

A journalism organization that has its registration revoked no longer has qualified donee status.

Objections

An RJO can file an objection to a decision regarding a notice of:

The time limit for filing an objection is 90 days from the date on the notice. The objection must be in writing and provide the reasons for the objection, supporting documents and all the relevant facts. The objection must be filed with the CRA's Appeals Branch. If the organization disagrees with the Appeals Branch’s decision, it can appeal the decision to the appropriate court.

For more information about this process, go to Objections and appeals and review the sections relevant to other qualifed donees.

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